Knoppix, or KNOPPIX is an operating system based on Debian designed to be run directly from a CD / DVD (Live CD) or a USB flash drive (Live USB), one of the first of its kind for any operating system. Knoppix was developed by Linux consultant Klaus Knopper. When starting a program, it is loaded from the removable medium and decompressed into a RAM drive. The decompression is transparent and on-the-fly.
Although Knoppix is primarily designed to be used as a Live CD, it can also be installed on a hard disk like a typical operating system. Computers that support booting from USB devices can load Knoppix from a live USB flash drive or memory card.
There are two main editions of Knoppix: the traditional Compact Disc (700 megabytes) edition and the DVD (4.7 gigabytes) “Maxi” edition. Each of these main editions have two language-specific editions: English and German.
Knoppix mostly consists of free and open source software, but also includes some proprietary software, so long as it fulfils certain conditions.
Knoppix can be used to copy files easily from hard drives with inaccessible operating systems. To quickly and more safely use Linux software, the Live CD can be used instead of installing another OS.
More than 1000 software packages are included on the CD edition and more than 2600 are included on the DVD edition. Up to 9 gigabytes can be stored on the DVD in compressed form. These packages include:
- LXDE, a lightweight X11 desktop environment (default for 6.0.1 and later), or KDE 3, a more feature-complete desktop which is the default for 5.3.1 and earlier releases.
- MPlayer, with MP3 audio, and Ogg Vorbis audio playback support
- Internet access software, including the KPPP dialer and ISDN utilities
- The Iceweasel web browser (based on Mozilla Firefox)
- The Icedove e-mail client (based on Mozilla Thunderbird)
- GIMP, an image manipulation program
- Tools for data rescue and system repair
- Network analysis and administration tools
- LibreOffice, a comprehensive office suite
- Terminal server
- Intel/AMD-compatible processor (i486 or later)
- 32 MB of RAM for text mode, at least 128 MB for graphics mode with LXDE (at least 512 MB of RAM is recommended to use the various office products)
- Bootable CD-ROM drive, or a boot floppy and standard CD-ROM (IDE/ATAPI or SCSI)
- Standard SVGA-compatible graphics card
- Serial or PS/2 standard mouse or IMPS/2-compatible USB-mouse